Top Records of 2008

By way of introduction, I present my most carefully considered and powerfully received records of 2008. In years past I have lamented the lack of a unifying artistic theme or musical style linking the exponentially multiplying number of artists the onset of distributed information and cheap personal computer recording has brought to the marketplace of ideas. In years past I have scolded (to very little, er, no effect) the masses, creative or otherwise, for settling into repetitions of pop forms of eras gone by, for shirking the creative and political responsibilities of the day by engaging in playful and harmless anachronistic feats of costume rock.

There is very little unifying my picks this year other than my taste, but the range of amazing recordings that emerged this year differs from years past. In the ever-accelerating slurry of mediocrity abetted by the availability of affordable recording equipment and distribution channels, those just-as-few as ever Shakespeares pushing along the whole project of civilization behind the confused, echolaliac hordes seem to have gotten a lot easier to hear.

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In From the Other Room: Tuning Darkly, Brightly

In from the other room collects and coalesces the apparition of The Black Dog’s ghostly tunings, possessing the Saturday morning air in my everyday apartment. Spinning on the magnetic discs is their most recent full-length, Radio Scarecrow, ownership and first-hand enjoyment of which I secured through the top-notch Bleep digital music store. Short, very short historical notes on the Black Dog entity:

Formed in 1989 by Ken Downie, Ed Handley, and Andy Turner, (the latter two leaving to form the ever-noodley and atmospheric Plaid).

Currently a solo effort on the part of Ken Downie.

This is a work of beautiful, very deep production. Sharing this passion for the haunting of 3-dimensional aural spaces with Plaid, The Black Dog delivers a very synthetic set of melodies minimally framed by a post-rave aesthetic that still sounds pleasingly and eerily natural. All the various wind-up monsters of sequenced repetition or LFO modulated pulses roaming the scales of this songlist in their terrific chrome and black matte definition, even at the full distance of hearing’s horizon, seem to do so obfuscated in a shadowy and endless nighted wood. It is seeing with the ear magic and clockwork in a land of tin wendigos.

By all means, please dig for yourself.